Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts
When I'm interested in something, like blogging, I can talk nonstop about it to anyone who will listen. But generally, I'm quiet. Taking it all in, watching and listening. Filing it away for future blog posts! : )
I don't need to be the center of attention. Usually I don't want to be. However, I have no problem speaking up when it's important. One day I was on a bus that was not making the required stops. I kept looking around, but strangely nobody was saying anything.
After we went by two stops, even though my voice is rather quiet, I yelled so the bus driver could hear me, and told him to stop. That he was passing the stops that we were supposed to be able to get off at. He didn't say anything, but then other people agreed and started telling him to stop. After other people spoke up with me, he couldn't ignore me anymore and finally stopped.
I just finished reading the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. I loved it and wish that everyone would read it. At the very least, I hope that many people will take twenty minutes and watch the TED video above. It is powerful stuff!
In the book, she talks about how the world is geared towards extroverts and why we need to also appreciate and notice the power of introverts. I can see so much of myself in this book and it made me feel great reading it.
The main difference between introverts and extroverts is a reaction to stimulation. Cain's analysis and examples are absolutely fascinating! Introverts can get easily overstimulated by too much noise and large groups of people and need to retreat and have alone time to recharge. Extroverts are the opposite and get energized by lots of stimulation.
She explains that introverts are not necessarily shy and are not antisocial, but that we prefer small groups of people that we can have meaningful conversations with. She talks about how modern workspaces don't take into consideration the temperament and needs of introverts. So many of them focus on open plans and don't allow for much quiet time, introspection and contemplation, which is needed for highly cerebral, innovative, and creative work. Collaboration is great, but it can't be only about that. There is so much that I could write about this book, but here's an excerpt below.
"If you're a manager, remember that one third to one half of your workforce is probably introverted, whether they appear that way or not. Think twice about how you design your organization's office space. ... Make the most of introvert's strengths--these are the people who can help you think deeply, strategize, solve complex problems, and spot canaries in your coal mine.
Also, remember the dangers of New Groupthink. If it's creativity you're after, ask your employees to solve problems alone before sharing their ideas. ... Don't mistake assertiveness or eloquence for good ideas. ...
Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind, she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet."
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